Brookhaven, GA, July 26, 2016 – by Trey Benton – Following recommendations from the City’s Community Development Department and Planning Commission, Brookhaven City Councilmembers voted to unanimously deny Solis Dresden Tuesday evening. The applicant, Terwilliger Pappas Multi-Family, LLC, sought to develop a mixed-use project requiring the rezoning of four parcels from a mixture of O-I and R-75 to PC-2. The project consisted of 121 Residential Units, 3,600 Square Feet of Live-Work Units, and 9,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space.
Attorney Laurel David, with the Galloway Law Group who represented the developer throughout the process, asked Councilmembers to withdraw the application. She said if the application is denied, no one would be able to develop the property for two years, which would cause detriment to the owner. “We are not asking for a rezoning this evening, we are asking to withdraw this application,” David said. “And there is no public purpose that is being served by denying the request for withdrawal.”
Greg Power from developer Terwilliger-Pappas told Councilmembers he supported the withdrawal of the application. “We worked really hard on trying to design something that would meet the land use plan and gain support of the community,” said Power. “We were unsuccessful and we have no intentions of pursuing this project any further.”
Residents from nearby Brookhaven Fields, Ashford Park and Drew Valley, many of whom spent hundreds of hours working through the process on this development, showed up in force, donning red shirts to show their opposition to the proposal and appealed to the City Council to deny, not allow a withdrawal.
Bob Sorrentino outlined some of the things that have made the Dresden corridor great and why many residents have decided to invest in the area. “We need to be smart about development and we can make Dresden even better,” Sorrentino said. “We need the City of Brookhaven to hear what we have to say.”
Karen Dernavich told Councilmembers that PC-2, sought by this application, is the highest density in the Brookhaven Zoning Code. She said this classification and this density does not work for neighbors in this location. “Brookhaven is the most sought after prom date and we have standards,” she said. “Denial is something the city Council can do to show support for their citizens.” We have repeatedly told you we do not want this kind of density on Dresden. We look forward to a plan in the future that complies with standards.”
Gordon Robinson, who lives directly across from the proposed development spoke in support. “The project if it were approved would be directly across from my unit,” Robinson said. “It would hurt me too see all the trees I enjoy be taken down, but it would hurt me more to have a development built there that is not feasible.”
Robinson explained the property he lives in across the street cannot support the amenities and security they have there. He suggested the higher density would allow more revenue to support the development.
“As a community we’ve got to be clear to our developers what we want to see. I encourage us to add the Overlay to the Character area study, for this parcel, and other future developments along Peachtree,” Councilman Bates Mattison who represents Brookhaven’s District 3 and who made the motion to deny said. “We have no reality of what we are actually saying what we would like to see.” He said the City and the developer have reached a zero-sum, lose-lose in this case.
Councilman John Park said emphatically that he has been telling developers to bring their “A-Game” early, get community support early, because if they don’t, the City will not hesitate to follow its laws, laws Park says are in place for a reason.
“The reason why the denial option is in the law books,” said Park, “is because, it’s in order to protect the citizens so that every 6 months they don’t have to come back and sacrifice hundreds of hours of their time. These aren’t people that are retired, with plenty of time on their hands, doing this for fun. These are people with jobs, with children, who are working hard to protect their neighborhoods. For us to ignore that, and to not send a clear message, and not deny when it’s warranted, I think is irresponsible on our part as a council.”
As far as the “damage” the denial has done to the owner, Park said as far as he is concerned, the owner of the property is the applicant who has hired an agent to represent him. “That agent did not act without the owner’s permission,” Park said. “So that to me, that argument is dubious. It’s like a ZBA hearing…creating your own hardship and asking to rectify that.”